Commissioners pave way for new middle school

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2005

WINDSOR – The long wait is finally over.

In 2001, Bertie County officials unveiled plans to construct a new high school, across US 13 from the present facility. State funding was gained, a loan was arranged to cover the remaining costs and an architect released drawings on what would be a state-of-the-art educational facility.

Four years later, the land purchased by the county to site the school remains filled with unsightly stumps, the result of logging the area prior to construction.

Now, with a change in plans, Bertie County will construct a new central middle school on an adjacent site, but not before having to satisfy a state government request to address the issue of wetlands on the original parcel of land.

While the dreams were shattered of having a new high school, Bertie’s Commissioners have settled for the next best choice with plans for the middle school. The final piece of that puzzle fell into place during a Commissioner’s meeting on Monday where County Manager Zee Lamb informed the county’s elected leaders that a wetlands permit had been approved, allowing for construction to begin on the new middle school.

To receive that permit, Bertie officials first had to fulfill a North Carolina DWQ (Division of Water Quality) standard, one dealing with 32 acres of wetlands on the original 47-acre site. The Commissioners agreed to spend an approximate $2,600 for a reforestation project that County Attorney Lloyd Smith said would satisfy the DWQ request.

Lamb added that the project might qualify for a 40 percent grant from the United States government since it dealt directly with a wetlands restoration effort.

As a point of clarification, Smith pointed out that, &uot;with this action, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners has now satisfied all of what is required of them in regards to getting construction underway on the new middle school. There is nothing more the Commissioners can do. All of the necessary permits and paperwork have been filed.&uot;

Lamb said the next step was to award the construction bid for the middle school, a facility that will be built on a 52-acre parcel of county-owned land that was originally set aside for a new recreation complex. He said that bid would hopefully be awarded in May with construction scheduled to begin as early as July.

If construction progresses as scheduled, the school may be open in time for the start of the 2006-07 academic year.

The school will feature a 1,200-seat auditorium, one that can be used for middle school and high school events as well as for community-related events.